Writing of the Week: The House as a Character

Writing of the Week: The House as a Character

This week’s theme for both the Tuesday and Friday writing groups was “The house as a character”. It resulted in a wonderful variety of writing, from prose to poetry:


Upon a time in Yorkshire

Not much of my Sixth Form English Grammar schooling left an indelible impression on my then philistine attitude to literature save for one event. Our English teacher took it upon himself to take a group of Liverpool likely lads on a trip to visit the ruins of a house on the Yorkshire Moors.

We stopped for morning tea in Howarth, a small village, which in the middle of winter had nothing much to offer. Then we drove and walked onto the Moors, eventually arriving at what, from a distance, looked nothing more than the dilapidated shell of what must have been a substantial house in the middle or late 1800s. It was only when our mentor informed us that this place was allegedly the setting for Emily Bronte’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ that our adolescent imaginations eventually kicked in.

It’s hard to know whether the house and its desolate location, our teacher’s unabashed enthusiasm or the book itself did the job but, in any event, the memory of the house and the trip to the Moors stood the test of time in my memory.

‘Wuthering Heights’ remains a favourite of mine to this day, sixty years later.

Oh, by the way, I became an English teacher.

Lawrence Goodstone


A cottage by the harbour

The cottage I moved to following the collapse of my twelve-year marriage was nestled along one of Sydney’s secluded little coves, where gentle waves raced in and out of sandstone ledges and nearby overgrown coastal vegetation and where the Australian Eora people would have once lived and breathed in the sounds of bird calls and breezes.

I saw this place, which I eventually called home for myself and three children, one evening in late summer. It lay there quiet and mysterious with its pretty Federation verandah at the front and its wild though charming garden. In this moment of reverie as I gazed into its darkened windows, it was as if the house and I felt a strange familiarity with each other, each of us with our own sadness and feelings of abandonment.

I knew immediately that I wanted to live in it, a friend who would offer solace, peace and a place to heal my grieving heart. We – myself and the children – stayed for ten years. I emerged after that time strong, independent and with happiness in my heart.

Meg Mooney


A new house beckons

Jose at age eighty and Teresa seventy-seven, hugely incapacitated after a failed brain aneurism operation, are devastated to learn the RMS will take their Rozelle house for construction of the WestConnex.

In the search by my partner for a replacement home for them, we have the task of finding a home to satisfy the whims of two aged Portuguese migrants with almost no education.

Three months passes in the task. Warren Street, Marrickville, is hotly contested at auction and we miss out. A fifteen-year-old home in Church Street, Hurlstone Park, seemed so right: huge ensuite, easy care garden. It also went below our budget, but we could not act.

Bingo! 56 Fore Street, Canterbury. With a Portuguese agent, Portuguese vendors, and it’s close to the kids and relatives. Three times the land of Rozelle, fully renovated with a stunning kitchen. It was as though this house was waiting for Jose and Teresa.

At the auction, the great dread transpired. A Chinese woman started bidding against us. Then, remarkably, she stopped, almost as though the house stepped in and dictated. The words, ‘I belong to the Portugueseses’.

Only $5,000 over our target and $30,000 below budget. It seemed this was meant to be …

Stephen Berry


The Malevolent House

I am a haunted house
If you go through my door
You won’t come out again
And will be seen no more

I am a haunted house
My floorboards creak and crunch
Once you cross my threshold
I’ll eat you for my lunch

I am a haunted house
The spiders are my friends
All humans that invade my walls
Soon meet their sticky ends

I am a haunted house
I’m built on tainted ground
If you come trespassing in me
Your body won’t be found

by  Marjorie Banks

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